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We started this morning with a visit to Waitangi Treaty Grounds. The site where the first treaty between the crown and the Maori tribes was signed, and where effectively New Zealand as a sovereign single nation was born. Unlike most of these sorts of arrangements there was a remarkable level of respect and good intention that went into it; though some translation differences between the English and the Maori version, and then an influx of new settlers largely undid that. It's also interesting because it took a private individual to buy the site, restore the buildings, and then gift it to the country as a way for this landmark to actually exist as something you can visit.

We also got to watch a maori cultural performance which is full of what I'm finding to be their typical big characters and big senses of humour. It's very much a country of people who know how to smile, enjoy a joke and don't wander around in the kind of grump you get used to from British strangers.

From there other than a brief stop for lunch, pudding and a visit to a pretty waterfall, it was a 4.5 hour drive Southwards to our rest stop at Thames, before we go explore the Coromandel Penisula tomorrow. We could investigate Thames but neither of us have a huge interest in the old history of gold mining (Rachael has had enough mining related history thanks to growing up in the Welsh valleys). Did get to see Orion from the Southern hemisphere orientation, and also see what it feels like to walk through a small town that basically either has gone to bed or maybe a bar at about 7pm at night. Very different to the late night busy towns I;m used to.

We had one incident on the journey which sums up why I dislike Satnavs. We spent maybe 15 unnecessary minutes trying to navigate New Zealand's spaghetti junction to get on the right motorway, all due to unclear instructions (keep going straight doesn't help when straight then splits into three equal paths). My dislike with satnav's is they encourage you to rely on them, and when they fail they tend to fail in ways you could avoid by just having looked at a map and planned at least the basics of the route yourself. Still we need it to get around this foreign country, and that is probably the most complicated area to drive through here too; so maybe I'm being somewhat unfair.

Right time for bed now I reckon.

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